Le Cantine de Quentin
52, rue Bichat, in the 10th Arrondissement.
01 42 02 40 32. Open for lunch Tues–Sun. Closed Mon.
I love bringing visitors to the Canal St.-Martin. This waterway in the 10th Arrondissement has in recent years become a magnet for hip and artsy Parisians. Good cafés and restaurants have been popping up around the water’s edge, and edgy boutiques for clothing and jewelry can be found not far away. After a morning spent exploring (one that’s usually fueled by pastry from Du Pain et Des Idées), I almost always stop in for lunch at Le Cantine de Quentin. This sweet little place is open only during the day and performs triple duty as a restaurant, cave à vins (wine shop) and épicerie.
The lunch menu is short and sweet, with about six choices for each category of entrée, plat and dessert. I habitually begin with one of their homemade veloutés, whose ingredients change with the seasons. A creamy pumpkin soup topped with grilled chestnuts was just perfect on a recent winter afternoon. Hearty starters like the country terrine and charcuterie plate are more sharable.
The main dishes change often but tend to be rich and comforting. I’ve loved the roast chicken with potatoes au gratin, the duck confit topped with a parmentier of creamy mashed potatoes and the tiny ravioli du Royans in a bubbling cheese sauce. Vegetarians can look to the house sautée of seasonal vegetables—a colorful plate that’s made sinful by copious shavings of aged parmesan.
Although I’ve never managed to save room for dessert here, the crème brûlée with mango has provided some serious temptation. Instead of gorging, I usually select a takeaway treat (like a mind-blowing Zaabär chocolate bar) and nibble it while strolling along the banks of the nearby canal.
Price check: entrées range from about 7 to 13 euros, with mains from 13 to 16 euros. The Cantine sells affordable wines by the glass but also allows you to select a bottle from one of the hundreds lining their walls. Count on spending 25 euros for two courses and a glass of house wine, and more if you want to splurge on a good bottle.
In a nutshell: Le Cantine de Quentin is the tastiest lunch table near the charming Canal St.-Martin. Come here for comforting French classics and some serious eye candy—walls that are lined with hundreds of bottles and tasty takeaway food products.
If you like the sound of Le Cantine de Quentin but need something that’s open at night:
30, rue Gay-Lussac, in the 5th.
01 43 25 20 79.